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JOURNAL 
of 



EARLY SOUTHERN 
DECORATIVE ARTS 




May, 1975 
Volume I, Number 1 

The Museum of Early Southern 
Decorative Arts 



MESDA ANNUAL MEMBERSHIPS 

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Sustaining $200 to $499 

Contributing $100 to $199 

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Joint $20 

Individual $15** 

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* Persons who contribute valuable antiquities are considered Benefactors of 
MESDA. Once named a Benefactor, a person remains such for life and enjoys 
all the privileges of a Member of MESDA. 

* *Non-profit Institutions may subscribe to the Journal only, receiving two issues 

per annum at the rate of $5.00. Institutional memberships are $15.00. 



PRIVILEGES 

Members of the Museum of Early Southern Decorative Arts will receive 
advance notification of all regular classes and programs offered by the Museum. 

Also members will be invited to attend a special lecture during the year 
devoted to new discoveries or research concerning southern antiquities. 



The Museum of Early Southern Detorative Arts is owned and operated by Old Salem, 
Inc., the non-profit corporation that is responsible for the restoration and operation of Old 
Salem, Moravian Congregation Town founded in 1766. MESDA is an educational institu- 
tion with the established purpose of collecting, preserving, documenting and researching 
representative examples of southern decorative arts and craftsmanship for the period 1600's 
to 1820. The Museum exhibits its collection for public interest and study. 

For further information please write to MESDA, Drawer F, Salem Station, Winston- 
Salem, North Carolina 27108. Telephone (919) 722-6148. 



JOURNAL 

of 

EARLY SOUTHERN 

DECORATIVE ARTS 



May, 1975 

Volume I, Number 1 

Published by 

The Museum of Early Southern Decorative Arts 



Copyright© 1975 Old Salem, Inc. 
Winston-Salem, North Carolina 27108 

Printed by Hall Printing Company 
High Point, North Carolina 



Contents 



Introduction 1 

Discovery: A Documented Bow Bowl Made 
for 'Hallifax-Lod ge / N orth Carolina' 3 

Bradford L Rauschenberg 

Carved Furniture of the Albemarle: A Tie 
with Architecture 14 

Frank L. Horton 

Further Notes on William Dering, Colonial 
Virginia Portrait Artist 21 

Carolyn J. Weekley 

Donations to MFSDA, January 1, 1974 to 
April 1, 1973 29 



Digitized by the Internet Archive 

in 2009 with funding from 

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill 



http://www.archive.org/details/journalofearlyso11muse 



INTRODUCTION 

It is with pleasure that we announce the publication of 
the first issue of the Journal of Early Southern Decorative Arts. 
We have long felt a need for publication of information 
concerning our various programs of research, study and 
museum activity. 

As museums go, MESDA is but an infant, both in size 
and in age. Its opening in January, 1965, was filled with 
the hope that a museum displaying the decorative arts of the 
early South would fill a void in the knowledge of art historians 
and antiquarians concerning this part of our southern cultural 
history. To some extent, the museum has indeed achieved 
this. We quickly realized, however, that even our dreams for 
an expanding museum collection, together with lectures and 
special exhibits, could never gather and display more than a 
minor part of surviving southern decorative arts. Publication 
seemed the answer. We made plans to record antiquities out- 
side our collection. 

In the spring of 1972 we began a pilot program of field 
research, sending MESDA's first representative to the Cape 
Fear area of eastern North Carolina. Through gifts and en- 
dowment income we were able to continue our search and 
to expand our force, during the summer months of 1973, 
to five representatives. Our experience was so rewarding that 
the National Endowment for the Humanities has now granted 
funds, on a matching basis with the MESDA Endowment Fund, 
to continue the program for three years into 1977. We now 
have one part-time and four full-time representatives. 

At this writing we are nearing completion of our survey 
of eastern North Carolina and Kentucky. We have also made 



a good beginning in Tidewater and Eastern Shore, Virginia. 
Our constantly expanding study file is beginning to show the 
extent to which cabinetmakers, silversmiths, artists, potters 
and other artisans worked in the South. Through the patience 
and courtesy of hundreds of cooperative owners, we have 
compiled folders of publishable photographs and data on more 
than 1500 items. 

In 1972 MESDA also initiated its second program of 
research: that of reading and compiling data from documents 
relating to the decorative arts of the South. While we have 
plans to expand this to include information from a variety 
of manuscript sources, we are preparing first a file of material 
gleaned from the many newspapers published in Maryland, 
Virginia, North and South Carolina, Georgia, Kentucky and 
Tennessee before 1821. Through the cooperation of the 
Archives of the North Carolina Department of Cultural Re- 
sources, we were able to acquire film of all known North 
Carolina newspapers of our period. We have also acquired 
all film known of other southern papers, but find that no 
other state archives has attempted as comprehensive a program 
as North Carolina's. Thus, it has become necessary for us 
to start a microfilming program and to assemble film. When 
filming is completed for various titles, our plans are to donate 
the negatives to various state archives or historical societies. 
This should make the material readily available to scholars 
of many areas of the South's history. We are seeking papers 
from private collections to fill in the missing links in our 
microfilm program. 

Our study of newspapers, now in its third year, has been 
rewarding and over 20,000 entries have been indexed. One 
can now begin to trace the movements of artists and crafts- 
men from one geographical area to another, to understand 
their capabilities and problems, and to know the social and 
cultural climate of the ar^as in which they worked. Our ap- 
proach has been to survey all arts, not just the ones of more 
popular interest, and so our files tell of the brickmaker and 
the plasterer as well as the silversmith and the cabinetmaker. 

It is, as you see, time to tell you something of our findings, 
thus the Journal of Early Southern Decorative Arts. We hope 
it will grow. We need your support. 

Frank L. Horton 

Director 

May, 1975 



Discovery: A Documented Bow Bowl 
Made For Hallifax -Lodge / J<lorth-Carolina 

Bradford L. Rauschenberg 

One of the many by-products of an intensive field research 
program is the discovery of significant ceramics not manufac- 
tured in America, but produced for the use of American 
colonists. Such is the discovery of a Masonic punch bowl 
made by the Bow factory in London for "Hallifax-Lodge/ 
North-Carolina." 

Located in northeastern North Carolina, Halifax is today 
a small town with a rich colonial political history. The town 
is known for its Halifax Resolves of April 12, 1776, an anti- 
British manifesto which helped prepare the way for the Declara- 
tion of Independence. That Halifax produced such a statement 
was certainly not owing to its size. As George Washington said, 
after visiting there in 1791: "It seems to be in decline, and 
does not, it is said, contain a thousand souls."' Perhaps the 
real reasons for its place in history was the influence of its 
Masonic lodge, the Royal White Hart Lodge, Number Two. 

This lodge, the second oldest in the colony (next to 
Wilmington's St. John's Lodge), held its first meeting in 
April of 1765* and in subsequent years furnished many of 
the leaders whose ideas and attitudes helped make the town 
a center of revolutionary activity. 

What is most interesting for our purposes, however, is 
its 1767 order for "4 bowls Bow China. . . ." 

It was the recent discovery of one of these bowls that 
brings new evidence to the study of Bow porcelain.' 




Photographs by the Museum of Early Southern Decorative Arts except 
where noted. 

Figures 1-4. The Halifax Bowl, 1768. Height 
4-9/16 inches, diameter lOVg inches. 

Stylistically, the bowl associated with this lodge dates 
around 1770. In the lodge minutes* for the meeting of Decem- 
ber 28, 1767, was discovered the following: 

Ordered that Brother Miller' get for the use of the 
Lodge the Sundry things under viz 

6 doz wine glasses \ 

12 half pint D*' f w' worm'd 

24 pint DO t Stalks 

3 doz Punch D" ) 

1/2 doz quart Decanters 

3 2 quart D° 

4 bowls Bow China to hold 1 

gallon each 

This was the first time a documented reference had been 
found specifying an order of Bow porcelain decorated especially 
for the American market.* It is ironic that 1767 was also the 



with the words Enameled 

upon them 

Halifax Lodge N° Carolina 



year that Josiah Wedgwood sent Thomas Griffith to the 
Cherokee town of Ayoree in western North Carolina with 
orders to search for the Cherokee clay, Unaker, which had 
already played an important role in the production of porcelain 
in England/ Though the Griffith expedition did not send 
clay to the Bow factory, it is known that shipments of Unaker 
to Bristol,^ Plymouth,' and perhaps Liverpool,'" did occur. 
Andrew Duche may have brought some Cherokee clay to 
the Bow factory in the late 1740's" Duche's apparent con- 
nection with Bow's first patent for porcelain and later employ- 
ment as agent for the quantities of Cherokee clay shipped 
from the Carolinas to London" provides an additional reason 
for romanticizing that the bowl ordered by the Halifax Lodge 
might have been made out of Cherokee clay. 

The man responsible for this order was probably Joseph 
Montfort, who became Master of the lodge in 1768 and 
later became the Provincial Masonic Grand Master of North 
Carolina. Montfort, who was also treasurer of the Province 
of North Carolina, delegate to the Provincial Congress, a 
colonel in the militia and the first clerk of the Court of 
Halifax County, had traveled widely both in the colonies 







■^y 



\ii' 



'H 



Figure 2. 



and in England. On returning from one of his trips to England 
he gave the lodge a floor cloth painted with Masonic symbols, 
which is in the lodge today.'' Montfort certainly was aware 
of London fashion, and when it came to ceramics, he evidently 
knew that Bow was among the best. 

There is little archaeological evidence for Bow on American 
sites. The most significant, perhaps, is a caudle cup made in 
the 1753-55 period and excavated from a well at Arell's 
Tavern in Alexandria, Virginia.'" 

Archival evidence is equally scarce. Imports from the Bow 
factory into the colonies are probably masked in advertise- 
ments and manifests by such terms as "1 set English China" 
or "2 burnt China punch bowls." One rare use of the Bow 
designation occurred in 1754, when Philip Breading of Fish 
Street, Boston, had for sale a "variety of Bow china, cups and 
saucers, bowls, & c."'* On February 19, 1758, when Benjamin 
Franklin was in London, he wrote a letter to Deborah, his 
wife, in which he enumerated the various gifts he had sent 
to her: 

In the large Case is another small Box, containing some 
English China ... a Bowl remarkable for the neatness 
of the Figures, made at Bow, near this City; some Coffee 
Cups of the same, a Worcester Bowl, ordinary. To show 
the difference of Workmanship there is something from 
all the China Works in England; and one old true China 
Bason mended, of an odd colour. . . . Look at the figures 
on the China Bowl with your spectacles on; they will bear 
Examining." 

Franklin, in a world of diplomats, here expresses his taste 
and inventiveness to leave us with the only account specifically 
mentioning Bow being sent to America. Viewed in this light, 
the discovery of the Halifax order seems all the more remark- 
able. It was in Halifax that Bow was chosen in preference to 
the usual Chinese export porcelain and English creamware 
decorated for Masonic use. 

The Halifax bowl falls into the last of four main phases 
of Bow production. The first, from 1744 to 1750, has left 
us with no documented examples. This was a period of ex- 
perimentation, and the products probably varied in quality. 
The second period (1750 through 1753) was marked by 
steady growth and climaxed by the opening of a London branch. 

Fortunately we have examples representative of Bow pro- 
duction during the second period, and also for the third period 



to 1758. Both are known for their grayish-white paste. Some 
time after 1754 the porcelain makers added the process of 
"transfer decoration' to their art. It was also about this time 
that they began to produce most of their waxy looking glaze 
and creamy warm-toned paste examples. 

During the fourth period, following the 1757 bankruptcy 
of the owner and the subsequent retirement of the factory 
manager, Thomas Frye, Bow porcelain took on a decidedly 
inferior quality. The paste was no longer always translucent 
with a creamy glaze. Often it had a brownish translucency and 
a rough glaze, sometimes marred by black specks and blue 
tinges. The addition of cobalt was "apparently an attempt to 
counteract the former yellowish or ivory tone, which was 
evidently regarded as a shortcoming."' ' 

During this last period of Bow production, up until about 
1776, we find much evidence of Chelsea-Derby and Worcester 
influences. About this time the Bow factory tools and molds 
were moved to Derby, signalling the end of the manufacture 
of Bow porcelain as we know it today. It is to this fourth period 
that the Halifax bowl belongs. 

The bowl exhibits all of the technical characteristics of 
paste and glaze common to the 1759-1776 production at Bow. 
While unmarked, stylistically it is like the anchor and dagger 
marked Bow which is decorated with colored grounds, birds, 
flowers and insects. The paste is very low in translucency, 
almost opaque, and has a cold chalk-white appearance. Beneath 
the glaze, and so evident in the protrusion through it, are 
the black specks common to Bow. They are especially obvious 
in the green ground. The glaze exhibits the so-called "egg shell" 
surface associated with an inadequate glost-firing.'* There is also 
a quantity of blue dots caused by the addition of cobalt and 
presence of kiln ash. The cobalt is also responsible for the blue- 
green pooling inside the foot ring. The base of the foot ring 
shows that there has been grinding to smooth the unevenness 
left over from the glazing process. 

It is obvious that the bowl was in frequent use. The gilt 
as well as some of the Masonic symbols, the overglaze decor- 
ations in the well of the bowl, have worn away. What remains 
are the underglazed blue cartouche and name, as well as the 
blue swags along the rim — evidence of Bow factory decoration 
rather than "outside decoration." 

The rococo cartouche is reminiscent of those on Dutch 
tin-glazed pharmacy jars made in the second half of the 







•!P^- yM), 



Figure 3. 



eighteenth century." It even more closely resembles the car- 
touche of a side panel on a Worcester underglazed blue teapot, 
dating about 1760." It is interesting that products from the 
Lowestoft factory exhibit many cartouches and other features 
which appear on Bow porcelain.' ' One might also compare the 
1759 Bowcock bowl with its four reserve panels on the exterior 
and, on the interior, a large scene encased by a rococo frame.'* 
The similarities obviously suggest a need for more research 
into what has sometimes been called craftsmen migration be- 
tween factories. James Mottershead, for example, was a china 
painter who worked at Bow, then Lowestoft, and finally moved 
northward to the potteries at Hanley." 

The use of the Halifax cartouche at so late a date is 
retardataire and suggests an earlier style not exhibited by 
known examples of Bow. Within the cartouche are the words, 
"HALLIFAX - LODGE / NORTH - CAROLINA," evidently 
painted after the cartouche. The misspelling of Halifax might 
be attributed to the decorator's attempt to balance thirteen 
letters on each line. A slight overlapping of the cartouche at 
either end suggests that the maker planned his work more 



carefully than the craftsman responsible for the Bow mug of 
"JOSEPH & MARGRET PENNYFEATCHj^V April 1770."" 

The similarity between the Halifax bowl and the Penny- 
feather mug is more than just decorative, for this author believes 
the inscription is by the same painter. These inscriptions also 
compare quite favorably with the Robert Crowther plate of 
1770." 

Within the Halifax bowl cartouche and under the words 
"NORTH-CAROLINA" are two Masonic symbols: the square 
and compass and the crossed column and shaft. Above the 
main cartouche and in what would be the crest of an armorial 
arrangement is a small panel showing an upraised arm and a 
fist clutching a trowel. These three overglaze rouge-de-fe/'' 
symbols, together with the underglaze blue swags and over-' 
glaze tassels seen in Masonic wall murals,*^ were undoubtedly 
chosen by the Bow factory.'* 

Around the cartouche, in rouge-de-fer, are four branches of 
Indianische blumen" flowers which evidence remains of gilding 
leached gray by use of the bowl. Also in rouge-de-fer overglaze 
are eight tassels and cord reminiscent of the previously men- 
tioned Dutch cartouche decoration but not at all reminiscent 
of anything in the early periods of Bow manufacture. The use 
of rouge-de-fer to accentuate or add dimension to the gilded 
tassels is similar in technique to the vermillion used by Richard 
Champion in Bristol. Between each of the tassels are under- 
glaze blue swags painted in anticipation of overglaze decoration 
and in some places thinned by the running of the cobalt. 

To heighten the effect of the swags and possibly also to 
draw attention away from the running of the cobalt, the gilder 
added a diaper pattern identical to the gilded underglaze blue 
mons found on a Worcester cup of the 1760 to 1770 period. ** 

On the exterior there is a ground color only slightly lighter 
than Worcester's 1769 "pea green." The ground color and the 
gilt of the reserves and foot-ring do not touch. The gilt was 
applied just inside the reserve on the white glaze for the 
technical reason that it would not adhere to green, yellow or 
pink grounds. In addition, the ground is uneven and splotched. 

Exotic birds and deutsche blumen^ decorate two large 
rococo reserves, and insects appear in each of two smaller 
reserves. The high foot-ring exhibits an interesting series of 
gilded diagonal lines forming an overall dentate effect identical 
to that on the body rim of a teapot thought to be Bow.'' 
Otherwise, the pattern is rare. 




Figure 4. 

Stylistically, one could say, the enamelling is a product of 
James Giles' workshop; however, closer inspection suggests that 
the decorator might only have known of Giles' style. James 
Giles (1718-1780)" was one of the most famous porcelain 
enamellers, and worked as an "outside decorator" in London, 
largely for Worcester. Besides Worcester, Giles decorated for 
many London dealers, as mentioned in the papers of John 
Bowcock, Clerk of the Bow factory from 1753-1763. 

Generally, there are seven styles designated as Giles' 
decoration. Within this classification variations occur because 
of the many decorators employed by Giles. However, the two 
styles appearing on the reserve panels of the Halifax bowl 
vary from the accepted classifications of Giles' decoration. These 
variations suggest that the Halifax bowl was decorated at the 
Bow factory rather than by an outside worker. This is perhaps 
best illustrated by the unusual swags. The decoration of these 
swags and the stages of application would indicate a closely 
coordinated understanding on the part of designer, enameller 
and gilder — an understanding impossible except under factory 
conditions. 

The most obvious variation occurs in connection with the 
Halifax bowl's reserve of exotic birds. Though interestingly 
enameled, the decorator's palette is less full than that of Giles' 
employee, the so-called "disheveled bird" decorator; and the 
overall quality of the reserve is not as fine as Giles' work. 

The reserve featuring the Deutsche blnmen is also decorated 
in the Giles style, but is not a product of his workshop. As 
with the exotic bird reserve, the palette is not so extensive nor 



10 



are the flowers executed in the most highly crafted manner. 
Also, the tulip featured on this reserve does not have the "diver- 
gent petals" common to the Giles workshop, though certainly 
the use of puce on the petal ends is similar. 

From this discussion one can begin to understand and 
appreciate the many comparative problems relating to this 
unique bowl. Its survival, together with the archival documenta- 
tion of its order, presents new and important considerations for 
the scholar studying ceramics for the colonial American 
market. It is hoped that the many questions and problems sur- 
rounding this remarkable bowl will provide an impetus for 
new discoveries of Bow imports to the American colonies. 

Mr. Rauschenberg is Assistant to the Director of the Museinn 
of Early Southern Decorative Arts. 



NOTES 

1. Alien, W. C, History of Halifax County (Boston: Cornhill Co., 
1918), p. 67. 

2. Carraway, Gertrude, Years of Light (New Bern: Owen G. Dunn 
Co., 1955), p. 11. 

3. The bowl was recently returned by bequest to the Lodge. It was 
rescued from a trash pile, in broken condition, some years earlier. 
Since its discovery by the Museum of Early Southern Decorative 
Arts, it has been on loan to the museum, and traveled to England 
and back for study and repair. The author is especially grateful to 
Miss M. Mellany Delhom, Curator, Delhom Gallery, Mint Mu- 
seum of Art, Charlotte, N. C, Mr. Hugh Tait, Deputy Keeper, 
Department of Medieval and Later Antiquities, British Museum, 
Dr. Thomas C Parramore, History Department, Meredith College, 
Raleigh, N. C, Mr. Elias Bull, Charleston, S. C, Miss Arlene 
Pahner, Curator of Glass and Ceramics, Henry Francis duPont 
Winterthur Museum, and Mr. R. J. Charleston, Victoria and Albert 
Museum, London, for their help in studying, repairing and research- 
ing the many records connected with this paper. 

4. Records of Royal White Hart Lodge, Number 2, 1765-1772, and 
1783 to date. Southern Historical Collection, University of North 
Carolina Library, Chapel Hill. 

5. Andrew Miller, merchant of Halifax, had strong personal and 
merchantile ties with England. His Loyalist sympathies later re- 
sulted in the confiscation of his property. 

6. The enameled glass, none of which is known today, was probably 
ordered from the Beilby's manufactory at Newcastle-upon-Tyne. 
The story of this glass must await an archaeological investigation 
of the grounds in the vicinity of the Lodge. 



11 



7. Goff, John H., "Thomas Griffith's 'A Journal of the Voyage to 
South Carolina, 1767' to Obtain Clay for Josiah Wedgwood, 
with Annotations, " Georgia Mineral Newsletter, Vol. XII, No. 3 
(Atlanta, 1959), pp. 113-122. 

8. Owen, Hugh, Tivo Centuries of Ceramic Art in Bristol Being a 
History of the Manufacture of the True Porcelain by Richard 
Champion (London: Bell and Daldy, 1873), pp. 8-14. 

9. British Museum, Catalogue of the Bow Porcelain Special Exhibition 
(Aberdeen: The University Press, 1959), p. 9- 

10. Hamer, Philip M., ed. The Papers of Henry Laurens, Vol. 2 
(Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 1970), p. 431, 
letter, Henry Laurens, Charleston, to Thomas Meats, Liverpool, 
January 24, 1757, who is to be sent ". . . by the first opportunity 
that shall present for 2 or 300 lb. weight of the Cherokee Clay. 
'Tis not often in our power to get it down as it lyes at the distance 
of 3 or 400 Miles." 

11. Hood, Graham, "The Career of Andrew Duche'," The Art Quar- 
terly, Vol. XXI, No. 2 (Detroit: Founders Society, Detroit Insti- 
tute of Arts, 1968), pp. 173-176. 

12. British Museum, op. cit., pp. 9-10. 

13. Typescript, extracts from records of Halifax Lodge, April 18, 1765, 
meeting at the house of Daniel Lovel. 

14. Interview with Mrs. Ivor No'el Hume regarding Colonial Williams- 
burg excavations, where a very small amount of blue and white 
Bow has been found, and with Miss Susan Meyers and Mr. J. Jef- 
ferson Miller II, Smithsonian Institution, regarding the cup (H. IV^ 
in., D. 3V4 in.. Cat. No. 67.1551), similar to that described in 
British Museum, op. cit., p. 25, No 37. 

15. Dow, George Frances, The Arts and Crafts in Neiv England, 
(Massachusetts: The Wayside Press, 1927), p. 88. 

16. Labaree, Leonard W., The Papers of Benjamin Franklin, Vol. 7 
(New Haven: Yale University Press, 1973), pp. 379-384. 

17. Scott, Cleo M., and G. Ryland Scott, Jr., Antique Porcelain Digest 
(England: The Ceramic Book Co., 1961), p. 94. 

18. Watney, Bernard, English Blue and White Porcelain of the Eight- 
eenth Century (New York: Thomas Yoseloff, 1964), p. 19. 

19. Crellin, J. K., Medical Ceramics in the Wellcome Institute (Lon- 
don: Wellcome Institute of the History of Medicine, 1969), plate 
125, p. 73. 

20. Hobson, R. L, Worcester Porcelain (London: Bernard Quaritch, 
1910) plate XXI, Fig. 2. This teapot is 6 in. tall and has a cursive 
"W" mark. 

21. Watney, op. cit., plate 76, 8 IB, 85D. 

22. British Museum, op. cit., Fig. 33, p- 49. 

23. Watney, op. cit., pp. 94-95. 

24. British Museum, op. cit., Figs. 50 and 51, p. 53- 

25. Ibiil, Figs. 53 and 54, p. 53. 



12 



26. An orange-red color made from ferric oxide. 

27. Lipman, Jean, "An Early Masonic Meeting Place," Antiques (May, 
1949), pp. 355-57. 

28. Letter, Bernard Watney to author, March 5, 1975, notes the exist- 
ence of Bow plates with similar gilded and fringed swags minus 
the tassels and rope. The plates are marked with the anchor and 
dagger. 

29. East Indies flowers, a style of floral decoration used by Meissen in 
1730, then spreading to other factories. It was partially based on 
the Kakieman style. 

30. Sandon, Henry, The Illustraied Guide io Worcester Porcelain (New 
York: Praeger, 1970), plate 60. 

31. Deutche blumen or German flowers is the 1740 floral style that 
replaced the Indianische hliimen of the 1730's. 

32. Solon, M. L., A Brief History of Old English Porcelain and Its 
Manufactories ( London: Bemrose and Sons, 1903 ) , plate 56, p. 174. 

33. Marshall, H. R., "James Giles Enameller," Transactions of the 
English Ceramic Circle, Vol. 3, pt. 1 (London: "William Clowes 
and Sons, (Ltd., 1951, pp. 1-9. 



13 



Carved Furniture of The Albemarle: 
A Tie With Architecture 

Frank L. Horton 

The Albemarle Sound, with its Roanoke and Chowan 
river valleys, was the most densely populated area of North 
Carolina during the third quarter of the eighteenth century. 
Like the entire eastern seaboard, it was predominantly English, 
and was the earliest region settled in North Carolina, having 
been peopled by immigrants moving southward from Virginia. 
Its Port of Roanoke was difficult to reach through the treacher- 
ous shoals surrounding the Outer Banks. It never became an 
important commercial center for Carolina, but it did serve 
a small merchant class in Edenton, on the sound, and in 
Halifax, just below the falls of the Roanoke. 

Most of the furniture from the Albemarle reflects an 
isolated society dominated by agriculture, with many small 
farms and a few large plantations. Originality of design and 
the predominant use of local woods tell us that there was 
little stylistic influence from other areas. Surviving port records 
show little furniture imported from abroad, but we do note, 
by comparison, 36 desks, 12 bedsteads, 370 chairs and 8 tables 
imported from Rhode Island, Massachusetts, New Hampshire 
and Connecticut between 1771 and 1774.' 

During the five post-war years from 1785 to 1789, far less 
New England furniture imports are listed, these usually de- 
scribed simply as "household furniture". New York, Pennsyl- 
vania and Maryland are most frequently mentioned, and Wind- 
sor chairs are often listed.' 



14 



Academic influence is seen occasionally in Albemarle furni- 
ture but, because of its rarity, it is startling when compared 
to the more provincial furniture of the area. One such group 
was discovered by the MESDA field research program, and has 
been associated with interior architeaural carving of the Blair- 
Pollock house of Edenton, c. 1766.^ Not knowing the cabinet- 
maker's name, we tentatively call the furniture the "Edenton 
Stair-Hall Group." 

The stair brackets and facia have shallow shell, vine and 
flower relief carving of distinctive design not readily associated 
with carving in other areas of the South (Figs, la & b). This 
is surprising when one notes the frequent movement of southern 




Fig»re la. Facia board of poplar wood, cleaned of 
paint, from Blair-Pollock House, Edenton, North 
Carolina, c. 1766, now in the Museum of Early 
Southern Decorative Arts. 




Figure lb. Stair bracket of poplar, cleaned of 
paint, from Blair-Pollock House. 



15 



artisans, particularly in the building trades, to accommodate 
available work/ The unusual strapwork bordering the facia, 
the four-petal flower at the upper corners, the unusual sparsely 
placed punchwork of the background as clearly seen in the 
bracket, and the general character of the vine motifs can be 
associated with the carving on the knees of two identical 
gaming tables and one dressing table, two of which have long 
Albemarle histories. 

The tables (Figs. 2 & 3) have identically carved knees 
and brackets with similar strapwork running across the top and 
down the brackets to the leaf carving, and the same sparsely 
placed punchwork backgrounds. The back talons of the feet 
are unusually knife-like (Fig. 4). We attribute the carving 
to the same hand as the stair carving of the Blair-Pollock house. 




Figure 2. One of tivo identical gaming tables, one 
having descended in the Willie Jones family, "The 
Grove," Halifax, North Carolina. It is of mahogany 
with felt top fitted for counter pockets and candle 
reserves, and with secondary woods of red oak for 
frame and medial brace, American black walnut for 
gate frame. 271/2" HO A, 51 ¥4" WO A. 



16 




Figure 3a. Dressing table descending in a family of 
Bertie County, North Carolina. The shallow top 
drawer is fitted with compartments and originally had 
a ratcheted looking glass. The table is of mahogany 
with red oak drawer liners, yellow pine back and inner 
case. 29" HOA, 361/2" WOA. 




Figure 3b. Dressing table 
knee carving, attributed to 
the same hand as the stair- 
hall carving, figs, la and 
lb. 



17 




Figure 4. Foot detail, showing 
the unusual knife-like back 
talon in combination with 
knuckled front talons over an 
oval ball ivithout connecting 
web, considered typical of the 
Albemarle region. 




Figure 5. Construction of the gaming table, with dovetailed 
tnedial brace and rounded gate hinge joint desigfied to lock 
leg into right-angle position when opened. 



18 



The two gaming tables are constructed with a medial brace 
from front to back frame, and the hinge joint is rounded to 
form a lock, stopping the swing leg at a right angle to the 
frame ( Fig. 5 ) . Medial braces are frequently found in Albe- 
marle furniture. Although the rounded gate hinge is not rare 
in English or American cabinetry, it is seldom seen in this 
part of North Carolina. Mahogany, seldom found in the region, 
is the primary wood of all three examples. 

The dressing table, with compartmented upper drawer, is 
of great interest because of its forward facing back feet. This 
feature has been seen on a sophisticated slab-top table of prob- 
able Albemarle origin, but we have not seen it elsewhere 
in America and can find no precedent in England. 

The name of the cabinetmaker of this group of furniture 
eludes us. Records indicate only five cabinetmakers working in 
the region during the period just prior to the Revolutionary 
War.* Perhaps we will one day find another example that is 
signed or can be traced by family papers or cabinetmaker's 
accounts to the hand that wrought such sophistication in 
northeast Carolina. 

Air. Horton is the Director of the Musemn of Early Southern 
Decorative Arts. 



NOTES 

1. Elizabeth Van Moore, unpublished gleanings from Port of Roanoke 
records, James Iredell Collection, Southern Historical Collection, 
University of North Carolina, MESDA file 57-13- 

2. Gail Leonard, unpublished gleanings from the Treasurer and Comp- 
troller's papers, North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources, 
MESDA file 57-13. For a comprehensive study of Rhode Island 
furniture exports for this period, see Joseph K. Ott, "Exports of 
furniture, chaises, and other wooden forms from Providence and 
Newport, 1783-1795." Antiques. January 1975, pp. 135-141. 

3. The house stood on a lot purchased by George Blair in 1763, and 
is represented on the Sauthier map of Edenton in 1769. 

4. Many examples of the migration of house-joiners, carvers and 
cabinet-makers exist. An advertisement in the South-Carolina Ga- 
zette, Charleston, May 19, 1739, notes that "Stone and Wood 
Carving and Carpenters and Joyners Work, [was] done by Richard 
Bayliss, from London ..." A man by the same name appears in 
Virginia during 1751-53, and is paid for work at Carter's Grove 
in James City County. Mardun Vaughn Eventon, by his advertise- 



19 



ment in Dixon's Virginia Gazette, Williamsburg, August 22, 1777, 
makes it known that he was a "Master Workman in the various 
Branches of the Cabinet Business, Chinese, gothick, carving, and 
turning . . ." He states that his "chief Desire is to act in the 
Capacity of Superintender, or Supervisor, over any reasonable 
Number of Hands, either in public or private Buildings," and that 
he had "an elegant Assortment of Tools, and Books of Architect 
[sic}" which he had imported from London and Liverpool. Eventon 
worked in several Virginia Tidewater locations, and we have adver- 
tisements from 1762 through 1779, working in Stafford, Chester- 
field, Charles City and Henrico counties. A handsome desk and 
bookcase by Everton, later Evington, is illustrated in Antiques, 
February, 1954, page 131. 
5. Of the nine-county area, the following "cabinetmakers" are listed 
in court records between 1763 and 1777: Chowan County; Samuel 
Black, Alexander Montgomery and James McLane; Bertie County: 
David Turner and Thomas Booth. Also, it is known that Gilbert 
Leigh and John Green, "joiners," made benches and "presses" 
for the Chowan County court house and clerk's office. Information 
courtesy of Elizabeth Van Moore, Edenton, North Carolina, 1962, 
MESDA file 11-4. See also James Craig, The Arts and Crafts in 
North Carolina (North Carolina, 1965) for various entries. 



20 



Further 7S(otes on V^illiam Dering, 
Colonial Virginia Portrait Painter 

Carolyn J. Weekley 

The title for this small article was selected for several 
reasons. The article presents little new documented material 
since Dr. J. Hall Pleasants' 1952 study, "William Dering, A 
Mid-Eighteenth Century Williamsburg Portrait Painter," ap- 
pearing in The Virginia Magazine of History and Biography 
in January, pp. 56-63. Published accounts or biographies of 
colonial southern artists, particularly those who worked in 
Virginia, are few and usually incomplete. The relatively small 
amount of research which recently has been devoted to 
colonial Virginia portraiture has left us with more questions 
than answers. Ultimately, there are only a few scholars of 
southern painting who are collecting miscellaneous "notes" 
on various artists, materials which need desperately to be 
shared, compared and brought together in some sort of fruitful 
conclusion in the months and years of study ahead. This is 
surely the case with the portrait artist William Dering, whose 
name is obscure and rarely if ever found in the various general 
histories treating American painting. 

At present it cannot be said that Dering was a major 
colonial artist for Virginia in the sense of John Durand, John 
Hesselius or John Wollaston. He was, however, on intimate 
terms with at least one well-known and much admired Vir- 
ginian of his time, Colonel William Byrd of "Westover" ' 
Pleasants proved this point well in his article and cites numer- 
ous references to Dering in Byrd's diaries for the years 17^9- 
1741.' 



21 



The recent discovery of two attributable Dering portraits 
of members of the Booth family of Gloucester County, Virginia, 
certainly indicates that the artist made his way among other 
noted families then living in the Tidewater area. The portraits 
of "Mrs. Mordecai Booth" and a young man who was probably 
her son, "George Booth," present important new stylistic 
characteristics for further consideration of Dering's portrait 
formulas and paintings techniques (Figs. 1 and 2). The 
Booth portraits are attributed on the basis of stylistic comparison 
with the only known signed work by the artist, "Mrs. Drury 
Stith" (Fig. 3).' 

The portrait of "George Booth" is perhaps the more 
fascinating of the two. The boy is shown in a full length 
pose and holds a bow and arrow in his left hand. The little 
dog in the right foreground holds a bird, presumably killed 
by one of the subject's arrows, in his rather exaggerated teeth. 
The most interesting aspect of the portrait, however, is the 
background. Immediately behind the subject and jflanking him 
are two architectural plinths supporting two nude female busts. 
The arrangement, though in no way identical, is reminiscent 
of architectural settings seen in the portraits of the early 
Maryland artist, Justus Engelhardt Kuhn." As far as this writer 
has been able to discern, the busts are unique in this period 
of colonial southern painting. One suspects that the incorpora- 
tion of these bold statuary elements was considered unique 
by Dering's Virginia contemporaries as well. 

The landscape background, center and beyond the subject, 
also poses interesting questions. Family tradition has held that 
the buildings, though somewhat indistinct in the painting, 
depia a scene in Williamsburg, Virginia. The Architectural 
Department at The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation has 
been unable to identify this as related to that town, and 
so one is left with the question: Is this artistic license by 
Dering or does this scene illustrate another area of early 
eighteenth-century Virginia?' Further study of the background 
of this portrait and the various motifs used by the artist should 
eventually prove helpful in identifying other works by Dering. 

The portrait of Mrs. Booth is equally as interesting and 
provides the most convincing comparison with the signed 
portrait of Mrs. Stith. Stylistic analogies are particularly notice- 
able in the drawing of the head and facial features. Although 
both paintings have been restored in recent years, the viewer 
cannot miss the striking similarities of the mouth, the eyes and 



22 



nose, and the shape and modeling of the chin. The same broad 
and rather naive modeHng of fabrics appears in these portraits 
as well as in the likeness of young George Booth. The general 
quality of the painting and the stiff poses of the sitters in the 
Booth portraits remind one of portraits executed earlier in 
New York.* 

The sitters' costumes in the Booth portraits suggest a date 
of 1740-45, which is within the period of Bering's stay in 
Virginia. Pleasants states that the first notice of the artist in 
the American colonies appeared in the Pennsylvania Gazette 
for April 10, 1735. In this notice Dering announced the 
opening of a dancing school.' The artist advertised again in 
the Pennsylvania Gazette in February, 1736, and by then had 
expanded his repertoire of teachings to include ". . . Writing 
. . . Plain Work, Marking, Embroidery, and several other 
Works. . . ."* His first recorded date for being in Virginia is 
for November 25, 1737: 

THIS is to give Notice, that this Day the Subscriber has 
opened his School at the College, where all Gentlemens 
Sons may be taught Dancing, according to the newest 
French Manner, on Fridays and Saturdays once in Three 
Weeks, by William Dering, Dance Master.' 

According to Pleasants, Dering purchased land in the city 
of Williamsburg on Palace Street in 1742. Evidently the artist 
and his wife lived on this site until his death early in 1751. 
John Blair recorded in his diary for that year that he was 
present at "Mrs. Dering's outcry" on February 14.' 

One important reference documenting Dering's painting 
activity in Williamsburg has survived. John Mercer, a planta- 
tion owner and merchant from Stafford County, recorded in 
his ledger for May 1749 that Dering was credited £9.-2 "By 
drawing my picture."" In this same account Dering received 
from Mercer "sundry Paints cost 29/20 sterl. . . ."'^ The Mercer 
account with Dering suggests that these paints were part of 
Mercer's payment to the Derings for lodgings he had at their 
house in Williamsburg. 

It is interesting that Dering never publicly advertised his 
portrait work. This was not uncommon for an eighteenth 
century artist in the colonies, for John Wollaston, Virginia's 
most prolific limner from 1754 to 1758, did not advertise. 

Perhaps the presence of the portrait artist Charles Bridges 
in Virginia from 1735 to 1740 accounts for Dering's early 
reluctance to publicly announce his artistic talents." Bridges 



23 



was, by far, a more accomplished artist than Dering, whose 
work seems flat and primitive by comparison. Other reasons 
for the absence of advertisements by Dering suggest still 
further problems, all unsolved and associated with portrait 
painting in Virginia prior to 1750. The MESDA research files 
on Virginia portraits for this period indicate that there were 
two and perhaps as many as three artists working there whose 
names are unknown. Their styles are remarkably close to that 
of Bridges, indicating that they were probably English im- 
migrants capable of producing "in the latest fashion." Perhaps 
these unknown portrait artists presented further competition 
for Dering, whose style was less sophisticated. 

Whatever Dering's reasons for quietly going about his 
portrait work, he has certainly left us with two of the most 
remarkable paintings executed in Virginia prior to 1750. We 
are hopeful that other works by him will be recognized in 
the future and from these we can learn considerably more 
about his role in colonial southern painting. 

Miss Weekley is the Curator of the Museum of Early Southern 
Decorative Arts. 



24 




Figure 1. MRS. MORDECAl BOOTH (Joyce Armistead, 

dates unknown) Oil on canvas, 30 x 39V2 inches, actual 

size. 

Private collection. 

The subject was the wife of Mordecai Booth (1703- 
1774) of Gloucester County, Virginia. She was the 
daughter of William Armistead of ''Hesse," also of 
Gloucester. 

Mrs. Booth wears a dark blue dress with ivhite lace 
at neckline and white sleeves and cuffs; the dress panel 
is light brown with accents of red. She sits in a red 
upholstered chair with her left arm resting on a marble- 
top table and she holds a brown snuff box in her lap. 
An elaborately arranged red curtain trimmed with gold 
is draped from the upper right corner down across 
the table. An unidentified bluish-black book rests on 
this fabric on the table. Her eyes and hair are brown 
and the background is black. 

The portrait descended through the family to the 
present owner. 



25 




Figure 2. GEORGE BOOTH {dates unknown) Oil on 
canvas J>0V4 x 39 V2 inches, actual size. 
Private collection. 

Booth was probably the son of Mordecai Booth and 
his wife (figure 1) of Gloucester, Virginia. 

He is dressed in a brown coat with brown knee 
britches. His waistcoat is red with gold trim and his 
shirt is white. The flanking plinths and busts are painted 
light gray to simulate stone. The little dog is modeled 
in whites, grays, and browns. 

Of interest is that the portrait retains its original 
stretcher and black painted frame, both of American 
yellow pine, a wood which grew and was used frequently 
in the South. 



26 




Photograph courtesy of the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation. 



Figure 3. MRS. DRURY STITH (Elizabeth 
Buckner, circa 1698/1700-1736) Oil on canvas, 
30 Vj X 22V2 inches, actual size. 
The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, Wil- 
liamsburg, Virginia. 

Mrs. Stith wears a light blue dress with a 
red lining showing at the left sleeve and at the 
bodice. Her hair and eyes are brown. 

The provenance for this portrait is particu- 
larly well documented and the reader is referred 
to Pleasants' article for additional information. 



27 



NOTES 

1. Pleasants, J. Hall, "William Bering, A mid-Eighteenth Century 
Williamsburg Portrait Painter," The Virginia Magazine of History 
and Biography, vol. 60 (Richmond, Virginia: The Virginia His- 
torical Society, January, 1952) p. 56. 

2. Ibid., pp. 58-59. 

3. Ibid., p. 62. 

4. The standard work on Kuhn is J. Hall Pleasants, Justus Engelhardt 
Kuhn, An Early Eighteenth Century Maryland Portrait Painter 
(Massachusetts: The American Antiquarian Society, 1937). 

5. Author's correspondence with Mr. Paul Buchanan, Director of 
Architectural Research, Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, July 
19, 1974. 

6. The author refers to portraits by Gerret Duyckinck and others 
by unknown artists such as the three portraits of the De Peyster 
children in the collections of the New- York Historical Society. 

7. Pleasants, "William Bering," p. 58. 

8. Ibid. 

9. Ibid. The full quote used here was taken from The Virginia Gazette, 
Williamsburg, Virginia, November 18 to November 25, 1737, 
p. 4, col. 2. 

10. Pleasants, "William Bering," p. 61. 

11. The author is grateful to Mr. Graham Hood, Birector of Collec- 
tions, The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, for bringing this 
reference to her attention, and to Mr. Harold B. Gill, Research 
Associate for that organization, for supplying the quoted portions 
from the John Mercer Ledger, 1725-1750. The original copy of 
the Mercer Ledger is in the Bucks County Historical Society, 
Boylestown, Pennsylvania. See also C. Malcolm Watkins, The 
Cultural History of Marlborough, Virginia (Washington, B. C: 
Smithsonian Institution Press, 1968), p. 32. 

12. Ibid. 

13. The standard work on Bridges is Henry Wilder Foote, "Charles 
Bridges: 'Sergeant-Painter of Virginia' 1735-1740," The Virginia 
Magazine of History and Biography, vol. 60 (Richmond, Virginia: 
The Virginia Historical Society, January, 1952), pp. 3-55. 



28 



Donations To MESDA 

JANUARY 1974 TO APRIL 1975 

MESDA COLLECTIONS 

Acquisition Number 

2666 Two silver serving spoons by Daniel You, Charleston, 

South Carolina. Donated by Mrs. William Wilkins. 

2669 Appliqued coverlet, Virginia. Placed on indefinite loan 

by Mrs. Elmo D. Sparks. 

2672 Portrait of the children of John Cart, attributed to Thomas 

Coram, Charleston, South Carolina. Given in memery of P. 
Huber Hanes, Jr., by the James G. Hanes Memorial Fund. 

2680 White tin-enamelled glazed standing salt, Lambeth, Eng- 

land. Donated by Mr. G. Wilson Douglas, Jr. 

2688 Trapunta coverlet. Donated by Mr. Frank L. Horton. 

2689 Appliqued quilt. Donated by Mr. Frank L. Horton. 
2694 Tea chest, Baltimore, Maryland. The George Kaufman 

Purchase Fund. 
2698- 1&2 Woven blanket. North Carolina. Embroidered coverlet, 

North Carolina. Donated by Mrs. C. E. Bennett, Jr. 
2707 Scenic wallpaper, c. 1810. Donated by Mrs. Ralph P. Hanes. 

2709 Patchwork quilt, Georgia. Donated by Mrs. Ralph Hinkle. 

2711 Bannister back side chair, southern. Donated by Mrs. John 
C Goddin. 

2712 Patchwork quilt. North Carolina. Donated by Mr. and Mrs. 
Alfred Williams. 

2717 Stoneware wallpocket, England. Donated by Mr. G. Wilson 
Douglas, Jr. 

2718 Secretary with bookcase, signed by the maker, Thomas 
McAlaster. Given in memory of Philip Wallis by Mrs. 
Philip Wallis. 



29 



2719 Chest of drawers, southern. Donated by Mr. G. Wilson 
Douglas, Jr. 

2720 Card table, North Carolina. Placed on indefinite loan by 
Mr. Thomas S. Douglas, III. 

2721 Woven coverlet, Georgia. Donated by Dr. James Chappell. 

2726 Patchwork and embroidered coverlet, Kentucky. Donated 
by Mr. John Caldwell. 

2727 Silver teapot by Charles A. Burnett, Alexandria, Virginia. 
Given by Miss Drewry Hanes and Mr. James G. Hanes, III 
in memory of Ralph P. Hanes. 

2739 Portrait of Elias Ball, Jr. by Jeremiah Theus. Donated 
by Mr. G. Wilson Douglas, Jr. 

2740 Powder Horn, c. 1812. Donated by Mr. G. Wilson 
Douglas, Jr. 

2741 Windsor bench, Virginia. Placed on loan by Mr. and Mrs. 
Samuel Lewis Tarry, Sr. 

Collection of furniture brasses. Donated by Mrs. Ralph 

P. Hanes. 



DONORS FOR 
CONSERVATION, BUILDING AND OPERATING FUNDS 

Mr. G. Wilson Douglas, Jr. Mrs. J. Saunders Williamson 
Mrs. H. Frank Forsyth in Memory of 

Mrs. Bahnson Gray Mrs. Lucia Wilkinson 

Mrs. Nancy Susan Reynolds 



DONORS TO THE LIBRARY OR LIBRARY FUND 

Mrs. Charles R. Brown Mr. Frank L. Horton 

Mrs. Saul Castor Mr. and Mrs. Miles C. Horton 

Mrs. Charles Collier Mr. and Mrs. George Kaufman 

Mrs. G. Wilson Douglas, Sr. Miss Patricia Kirkhan 

Mr. G. Wilson Douglas, Jr. Mrs. William Putney 

Mrs. Bahnson Gray Mr. Bradford L. Rauschenberg 

Mr. Thomas A. Gray Mrs. George Waynick, Jr. 

Mr. Gordon Hanes Miss Carolyn Weekley 



Mr. R. Philip Hanes, Jr. 



30 



MUSEUM OF EARLY SOUTHERN DECORATIVE ARTS 

Frank L. Horton, Director 

Carolyn J. Weekley, Curator 

Bradford L Rauschenberg, Assistant to the Director 

Mrs. James F. Hind, Educational Coordinator 

James A. Gray, Development Officer 



FIELD RESEARCHERS 

Mrs. Samuel Clay, III 
The Ridge, Route 3 
Paris, Kentucky 40361 

Miss Ann Dibble 
Post Office Box CK 
Tappahannock, Virginia 22560 

Miss Elizabeth Dahill 
62 5 V^ Georgetown Road 
Raleigh, North Carolina 27608 

Miss Christine D. Minter 
3840 Pine Road 
Portsmouth, Virginia 23703 

Miss Terrell L Armistead 
Reed Cottage, Number 4 
Chincoteague, Virginia 23336